Trump Has No Right to ‘Irrelevant’ Witnesses, Schiff Says
Donald Trump’s legal team has the right to call witnesses in the president’s impeachment trial but not “irrelevant” ones such as Joe Biden’s son Hunter, the Democrat’s lead impeachment manager said.
“It’s not a question of what I’m afraid of. I’m not afraid of anything. It’s a question of: Should the trial be used as a vehicle to smear his opponent … or is it to get to the truth?” Representative Adam Schiff of California, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, spoke a day after Trump’s legal team started its defense of the president in a two-hour session billed as a preview of their broader defense, which will start on Monday.
Trump had decried Saturdays as “Death Valley in T.V.,” and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and attorney Jay Sekulow kept the first day’s proceedings brief.
The gist of the Trump team’s arguments, as put forward in various legal briefs and consistent with the president’s public statements, is that Democrats are attempting to overturn the 2016 election and interfere in November’s ballot.
“They’re asking you to do something that no Senate has ever done and they’re asking you to do it with no evidence,” Cipollone said Saturday.
Alan Dershowitz, a constitutional law expert and member of Trump’s legal team who didn’t speak during Saturday’s hearing, said the impeachment managers failed to meet the high constitutional standard to remove a president.
Democrats “presented the strongest case they could present on their facts, but they didn’t come close to alleging impeachable offensives,” Dershowitz said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to bribery, treason and other high crimes and misdemeanors listed in the Constitution.
One Republican, Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, on “Meet the Press” gave Democrats “credit” for a “broad, comprehensive case” against Trump but one that “was circumstantial in nature.”
Trump’s lawyers will resume their defense on Monday, confronting the dual tasks of trying to exonerate their client while shutting down Democratic attempts to subpoena new evidence and witnesses.
On Saturday Schiff told reporters that the White House had put forward a “destructive” argument in Trump’s defense.
“The White House defense indicates it’s acceptable to ‘As president of the United States, to get a foreign nation to help you cheat in an election, and you can do it through any means you like,” he said. “That is so deeply destructive of our national security and the integrity of our elections, it’s hard to overstate the matter.”
The impeachment case is being played out for the 100 senators who will decided the fate of the impeachment case as soon as the end of this week.
Trump’s acquittal is all but assured in the the GOP-controlled Senate. The more consequential audience is the voting public, who’ll decide in November whether Trump should be re-elected in a contest with a yet-to-be-decided Democrat.
“Much of what was presented by the Democrats were not impeachable offenses,” Dershowitz said. “They were campaign ads designed to try to show that you should vote for a different candidate. That’s fine. Let’s put it up to the voters.”
The president continued a war of words on Sunday on Twitter, calling the impeachment “massive election interference.”
In another post Trump laid into Schiff, saying the lawmaker “has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!” Asked on NBC if he thought the comment was a threat, Schiff said “I think it’s intended to be.”
Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, one of the seven House impeachment managers, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump “has a tendency to say things that seem threatening to people” and “really ought to get a grip and be a little more presidential.”
— With assistance by Todd Shields, and Katia Dmitrieva
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